Senscot Bulletin 07-02-2003




Dear Members and friends,


Funeral today (Friday) of my uncle. 83 – he’d been ill for a
while – had a strong faith – was ready to die. Been thinking about his life –
as one does. He started in his father’s fish and chip shop in Glasgow aged 14
and retired from his own, an Edinburgh institution, aged 70. He must have
prepared between 2 ½ – 3 million fish suppers. He enjoyed his work and was
intensely proud of being good at it – an artisan who ran a successful business.
Serving people – and them returning for his service – had innate dignity for
him. I’ve always admired this.  Outside
work, my uncle had three passions. The first was making/fixing things – over
the years he created a ‘state of the art’ workshop in his garden.  His second passion was golf – with his wee
buggy, he played most days up to last October. His third passion was “one arm
bandits” – he could stand mesmerised for hours. Remember one day at Kilspindie
Golf Club – he decided not to go out “sore back – too cold” but we saw him
eying the flashing new bandit. When we came in at the end of our round, he was
still sitting there – contented. “I started with £20” he said proudly “lasted 4
hours”. “You must have been ahead then?” I asked “I won the £70 jackpot twice!”
– eyes sparkling – “Wow – and gave it all back?” – “Of course” he said happily.
“It’s only a matter of time isn’t it?”



The recent social economy review informs us that at present
our sector in Scotland operates around 30% of residential care for older people
and 10% of pre-school childcare. In places like Scandinavia this figure is
around 70% (mainly co-operatives) – clearly great scope for market growth. But
we have to ask if our 32 local councils will support this expansion.

            In Wester
Hailes from 1976-96 local leaders created an impressive range of community
enterprises to plug gaps in public services. The councillors of the time called
our cluster of projects ‘Treasure Island’ and laughed. But over the years as
local government shrunk and our sector grew they moved in to take control of
what the community had built. In Edinburgh and all across the central belt of
Scotland, councillors with these same attitudes still hold sway, not only in
their own wards and council halls but through their control of who goes to
Holyrood, Westminster or Brussels.

So how can things change? Last week the Executive
published its bill, Local Governance (Scotland) (
which is designed to gradually ‘pension off’ some of the old brigade and
broaden the base for recruitment of councillors.



Tom Sneddon, Chair of DTA Scotland, informs us that
Communities Scotland have approved a 3-year funding package to launch DTAS.
This is great news, as ASTIS (and Senscot) have invested a lot of time and
energy in the development. Job advert for Director should appear soon. Alan
Tuffs (CBS Network) has written an interesting piece in this month’s New Sector
which traces the origins and context for the growth of this movement in Scotland
called ‘Local control, local solutions’ 

(  If you want to be kept informed of
developments, contact



At the recent World Economic Forum, Mel Young spoke with
Lord (David) Puttnam – a Trustee of the Schwab Foundation – and asked if, on
his next visit to Scotland, he would speak with Senscot’s members about social
entrepreneurship. David’s office has been in touch offering Friday 13 June, and
Senscot management committee has decided to make that our AGM this year. So
please put that in your diary: 13 June, probably at the Hub in Edinburgh. Don’t
forget your subs.



Must say I thought Tony Blair’s position as leader in the UK
was invulnerable, but it’s becoming clear that his flaw is a messianic delusion
– that he’s intent on realising his own crucifixion. If he does in fact take
this country into an unjustified war that we don’t want, he won’t be forgiven,
and will deserve to be replaced. Gordon Brown just sits and waits.



NOTICES: See Hot Pages at for
more on these and other items and job vacancies. If you have a relevant notice
you’d like posted, send it to


‘’, a free UK online resource, has
published a list of the top free software applications available. Some are UK
specific, like the Gift Aid Management software, but most are suitable for many
non-profit orgs worldwide. List incl. fundraising databases, PDF creation
software, Anti-virus software and email encryption software.


Forth Valley Loan Advice Surgeries, for enterprising social
economy organisations, Stirling – Fri 7 Feb, Falkirk – Thurs 13 Feb. FREE loan
advice; opportunity to speak to panel of experienced business advisers about
your current and future financial needs. 
The panel will include David Herd of Social Investment Scotland, Dave
Howie of CEL and Bob Donaldson of The Royal Bank of Scotland.  Tel Dave Howie 0131 475 2345 to arrange a
time. More info


Senscot is recruiting for an administrator. Info on our
website on the ‘Jobs’ hot page.


Edinburgh Green Belt trust is running free environmental
workshops on Saturdays for anyone interested in learning new skills. Info:;


TSB Foundation for Scotland is offering free loan surgeries
throughout Scotland: Mon 10 Feb, Falkirk, 17 Feb Inverness, 18 Feb Glasgow
East, 19 Feb Edinburgh. If you wish to attend for a one-to-one session call
0870 902 1202.



This week the bulletin profiles a project based in West
Wemyss in Fife that is designed to allow marginalised young people access to
training in D.J skills. Ultra Deejay Skool aims to provide training in mixing
music, creating CD’s and familiarisation with music technology. Having recently
received support through the Scottish Community Foundation’s ‘You and Your
Community Awards’, Ultra Deejay Skool intends to grow in to a successful social
business that will include recording studios, DJ booths and rehearsal space.
The Skool operates at weekends and evenings and is seeking to generate much of
its own income through contracts with local authorities. For further information,
see  (Project Profiles)



Senscot’s line about the ‘poverty industry’ being for the
benefit of professionals is taken up by Angela Elniff-Larsen in last week’s New
Sector magazine. She writes ‘Poor communities are asking, ‘When do we get some
resources we can physically handle to provide what we know we need?’   



The poet laureate Andrew Motion (Scotland should have our
own) was a friend of the late Philip Larkin, and wrote a poem in memory of him.
In the poem, Motion describes a remembered conversation ‘On one of those
evenings that came out of nowhere and one drink led to another, and then
another…’ Larkin is quoted as saying, ‘you see, there is nothing to write which
is better than life itself, no matter how life might let you down or pass you
by.’ For much of my life I would have argued with this – my early heroes were
Jack London – Scott Fitzgerald – Ernest Hemingway – all that gang of wild
firebrands whose self-destruction seemed heroic – the price of creation.

            Now I think
that’s a lot of cobblers. Not clear why or when my attitude changed, but some
years ago my own tortured, self-obsessed journal just petered out – as if the
demons simply left. ‘Life itself’ seems enough now – the greatest paradox –
that stillness and emptiness bring full engagement with life. Still enjoy
scribbling sometimes, but now it’s different. 
Larkin again:

‘And the empty pages? Should they
ever be filled, let it be with observed celestial recurrences, the day the
flowers come, and when the birds go.’


That’s all for this week

Best wishes,




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